Sustainability to propel the energy transition: Vestas will be ramping up its contribution


Lisa Ekstrand
Head of Sustainability at Vestas

Published on 4th February 2020

This week, Vestas will be publishing its sustainability report, where amongst other things, we outline our most ambitious commitment to sustainability to date: a new strategy entitled ‘Sustainability in everything we do.’ While the fundamentals of this strategy amount to an ambitious and far-reaching framework of commitments, the sentiment behind this work is simple. At Vestas, we are pushing the notion of sustainability in the industry to new heights. This work is important, not only because our stakeholders expect us to deliver on this, but because we believe this is the only way to build a better world for future generations.

Reaching further has become an urgent necessity to our work at Vestas. The battle against the climate crisis has pit the energy industry against the clock. As an industry leader, we have an obligation to push further if we are to meet the parameters of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures. At Vestas, this requires us to expand the boundaries of what we can offer the world, while eliminating the environmental and social impact of our internal operations. 

According to the International Energy Agency, energy accounts for two-thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions, making it the main contributor to the climate crisis[1]. As wind energy becomes increasingly competitive against fossil fuels, and with several outlooks pitting wind to command a rapidly growing market share both within and beyond the OECD sphere, it would be easy for us to drift into complacency at Vestas. The harsh truth is, decarbonising the power sector is just the first step towards curbing the climate crisis. If we are to limit carbon emissions at necessary scale, we must also work to decarbonise the other economic sectors that are contributing to carbon emissions, such as heating, and transport. At Vestas, we believe we are aptly positioned to address this need, and we plan to do so by applying the innovative mindset and the technological competency that has forged our success in the wind industry. 

The opportunities for Power to X are a great example of how we can help propel the energy transition forward. This year, we’ll be ramping up our work in Power to X, where we hope to apply our research within hydrogen and e-fuels to drive electrification in sectors where it has traditionally been difficult to achieve. Initiatives like these are key; as through them, we can replace high CO2-emitting fuels with clean alternatives.

The coming years will also see Vestas pursuing more partnerships with both global and local stakeholders that can help us to amplify this agenda, and continue to expand our impact beyond electricity production. This work has already begun, with Vestas joining the Getting to Zero Coalition in 2019. The coalition - an alliance of more than sixty companies from a variety of sectors, supported by several governments and intergovernmental organisations - is established to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. We see tremendous potential in substituting fossil-based shipping fuel with new cost-effective, renewables-based fuel. By joining the coalition, we hope to share our wide range of competencies - from engineering and technology development to large-scale project execution and energy integration. We hope our involvement will help accelerate the project’s success.

Another example is our partnership with Mercedes-Benz in the Formula E Championship, a platform well-positioned to drive electrification in the transport sector, uniting the power of sport with the power of sustainable energy.

Fulfilling the demands of the energy transition, however, will require us to look inwards, as well as to expand externally.

In the coming years, we’ll be working to eliminate waste generated from our value chain, achieve carbon neutrality without the aid of offsets, reduce CO2 emissions in our supply chain, and ensure our organisation raises the industry standard for safety and diversity & inclusion. These elements will help us more effectively propel the energy transition by ensuring Vestas’ longevity as an organisation. As we expand our reach, it is our duty to ensure that this expansion leads to an energy transition that benefits everyone, not just the few.

Vestas is committed to achieving sustainability in everything we do. This is not just a promise, it’s an action plan, designed through the diligence of representatives from every area of the company. From QSE, to Power Solutions, to Procurement, to Service, to Global Supply Chain to People & Culture and to Facility Management, several Vestas team members have helped make our ambitions within sustainability become a reality. As the facilitator of this strategy, I have been filled with an overwhelming sense of pride from the support and dedication to this goal from so many stakeholders across Vestas.

At Vestas, sustainability is not just the business we are in, it is the foundation of our success, and the driving force within our employees. Without an earnest commitment to sustainability, our role within the energy transition would be impossible, and our goals for building a better world would not be realised.